‘SuperDesign’, a new exhibition at new york’s R & company gallery, highlights a collection of iconic italian masterpieces created between 1965 and 1975. over the past decade, the curatorial team — led by maria cristina didero — has conducted extensive research to form the most comprehensive understanding of these design works, their creation and influence on contemporary culture. in response to modernist aesthetics, the chosen designers utilized bold and striking colors, kitschy symbols, and large scale distortion to create some of the most iconic furniture pieces of the last century.

 

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a selection of the pieces on view as part of the exhibition, ‘SuperDesign’
all images courtesy of joe kramm / R & company

 

 

the period of italian radical design began in the 1960s in response to the turmoil of the country’s politics. this period became known as ‘the years of lead,’ when political disagreement often resorted to violence between the far left and right parties. ‘the radicals created a profound and enduring change in how the world thinks about the act and outcome of design — a field of limitless possibilities,’ describes R & company co-founder evan snyderman, discussing the impact of the artworks and the creative minds behind them.


‘safari’ sofa designed by archizoom associati, produced by poltronova, italy, 1967

 

 

artists and designers responded to the political climate through the individual, artistic interpretation and creativity. hidden within the somewhat whimsical design pieces, are often progressive commentaries on the contemporary social and political issues. artworks include studio 65’s bocca sofa, the ‘pratone’ lounge chair, and drocco and mello’s ‘cactus’ coat rack. ‘creativity — in all its manifestations — was deeply influenced by this demand for regeneration,’ writes maria cristina didero in her introductory essay. ‘those active in fields such as art and architecture sought to overcome the boundaries of their disciplines and often joined forces to question the status quo with the aim of subverting the social, political, and visual culture of their time.’ 

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‘bocca’ sofa in red stretched upholstery over foam
designed by studio65, produced by gufram, italy, 1970. this example is from 1973

 

 

the progressive works created by these visionary artists and designers continue to act as inspiration for the contemporary creatives pioneering the industry today. the bocca, lip-shaped sofa and safari sofa integrated original shapes and materials into the ongoing furniture design dialogue. the physical pieces, themselves, are accompanied by photographs of 60s and 70s interiors — allowing viewers to reminisce or gain the most comprehensive perspectives of this period. the exhibition explores the story of each object, seen in photographs of nightclubs, private homes, and restaurants, to expose how these visionaries truly shifted our perception of design.

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installation view of ‘SuperDesign’, on display at R & company in new york

 

 

the pratone lounger, conceived at the anti-design cultural revolution, responds directly to the restrictive aesthetics of modern design. its grass-like appearance supplies a biological and natural element, which is then abstracted and ultimate combined with the artificiality of its industrial materials. the action of sitting is also complicated by the design, suggesting that we can no longer rely on the habitual bend at the hips movement associated with sitting — a gesture intended to free people from social conditioning. 


‘pratone’ lounge chair, designed by pietro derossi, giorgio ceretti and riccardo rosso, 1966
produced starting in 1971 by gufram, still in production. this example was produced by gufram in 1986
stamped: ’86 gufram multipli.’ number 32 from an edition of 200

 

 

to accompany the exhibition — which includes furniture, objects, and drawings — didero has published an extensive book on the subject, as well an in-depth documentary, (the trailer of which can be seen at the top of this page). didero partnered with francesca molteni to create the extensive film, which features some of the greatest minds behind the movement. ‘SuperDesign’ remains on view at R & company in new york until january 4, 2018.

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the display has been curated by maria cristina didero

superdesign
the show highlights a collection of italian masterpieces created between 1965 and 1975

superdesign
the designs utilize bold and striking colors, kitschy symbols, and large scale distortion

superdesign
‘passiflora’ table lamp in white and yellow plastic.
designed by superstudio, produced by poltronova, italy, 1966

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prototype ‘leonardo’ sofa in multi-colored polyurethane
designed by franco audrito and athena sampaniotou for studio65, italy, 1969
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‘paramount’ table lamp in glazed ceramic with silk umbrella
designed by lapo binazzi for UFO, florence, italy, 1969
this example was produced for alchimia, 1980s.
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‘formaggio’ in polyurethane varnished latex. designed by lapo binazzi for UFO, florence, italy, 1969
the original example was destroyed and this unique example was produced by the artist in 2000
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‘fiore artificiale’ wall lamp in yellow molded plastic, neon, lacquered plywood
designed by gino marotta, italy, 1967

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‘MGM lamp’ in pink painted metal. originally designed by lapo binazzi for UFO, florence, italy, 1969
this example was produced by lapo binazzi for alchimia, 1980s

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‘dollaro’ lamp in marble, wood and gilt metal. originally designed by UFO, florence, italy, circa 1975
this example was produced for alchimia, 1980s

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set of four ‘wearable chairs’ in wood and fabric
designed by gianni pettena, italy, 1971

superdesign
‘SuperDesign’ remains on view at new york’s R & company gallery until january 4, 2018

 

 

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